Public Sector Renewal Program to increase quality of services



The State Government has announced a Public Sector Renewal Program to ensure the delivery of better quality and more innovative community services.

Premier Jay Weatherill and Public Sector Minister Michael O'Brien announced the plan, which will kickstart the changes required to make South Australia's public sector better meet the growing needs of the community.

Since early this year, the Government has been working with national and international experts to design the program, which draws on practices in the public and private sectors that have proven results.

"Recent debate has been about the size of the public sector, when we need to be talking about the quality of the public sector," Mr Weatherill said.

"This program is about striving for a higher quality public sector.

"We are in a constrained financial environment where we must make savings, but we still live in a community that has ever-increasing demands for services.

"That equation won't work unless we do things differently and the Public Sector Renewal Program is about making those changes across all of our public services."

Mr Weatherill said the program would:

LIFT the quality of services provided, while enabling savings targets to be met, including reducing public sector numbers by 4000.

ENABLE the public sector to implement a less risk-averse culture that is more focussed on the needs of the community and less focussed on bureaucratic processes.

MAKE the public sector a more dynamic and better place to be employed.

The next phase of work will be led by a taskforce, which will work closely with Economic Development Board chair Raymond Spencer, who has been involved in creating a culture of innovation within an international company spanning 40 countries. EDB members Rob Chapman
and Professor Barbara Pocock also will be involved.

The EDB has supported the program in recognition that an innovative, efficient public sector is a vital component to sustainable economic growth across the State.

The taskforce will be led by Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy deputy chief executive Ms Erma Ranieri, who has a highly-regarded track record of change management in the public sector.

Under the program, there will be demonstration projects in four agencies launched in November.

By the end of next year, every portfolio agency will have been involved in the program.

The projects will be directed at improved service delivery, staff capability development, local empowerment, productivity improvement and budget savings.

Mr Weatherill said the $2 million investment to change the way the public sector operates would help achieve the $129.5 million savings required by the Budget by 2015-16 and provide substantial financial returns through enhanced service delivery.

Mr O'Brien said the public sector reform agenda would promote innovation, improve service delivery, achieve productivity gains and entrench South Australia's reputation as having the most effective public sector in Australia.

"The 2012-13 State Budget includes a one percent efficiency dividend across all agencies," Mr O'Brien said.

"This renewal initiative will give us the tools to achieve efficiency gains while enhancing service delivery.

"The message from this government is that we value public servants.

"We want their input to meet the challenge of rising expectations within a tightening fiscal environment.

"We don't see slashing and burning public sector numbers as the answer.

"We want to build skills and capacity within the public sector and work more efficiently to deliver more and better services."

The renewal program builds on previous initiatives including the new Public Sector Act, Public Sector Performance Commission, Government Reform Commission and the High Performance Framework.